Packers were 'jacking' the snaps
. The Bucs were flagged three times in the first half for defensive offside penalties, each a result of a defender jumping across the line of scrimmage before the snap.
DT Albert Haynesworth, left, offered an explanation.
"I know (on) my offside, I jumped," he said. "But the center jacked the ball a little bit. I told the ref, but it's the Packers, so they just call it against us."
Centers and quarterbacks often use subtle tricks to draw defenses offside. Was that the case Sunday? If so, the officials didn't address it.
"Later in the game, they stopped moving it," Haynesworth said. "But at the start of the game, they were jacking it, and it was coordinated with the quarterback's cadence. So, it was kind of making you want to get off (the ball)."
The scoreboard has been Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount's chief nemesis in recent weeks. But on Sunday, with the Bucs facing a 14-0 deficit, they patiently went back to what has been their most consistent offensive weapon: Blount. • That patience was rewarded with a bruising 54-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, 48 seconds after the Packers had taken a two-touchdown lead. • Blount broke at least six tackles on the play. • "I was still getting the ball even though we were down 14," he said. "So, I just tried to do something with it." • Regarding busting through so many would-be tackles, he said: "That's just determination, trying to put points on the board for my team. I feel like it's going to hurt them more than it hurts me to tackle me in this cold weather, so hey." • Watching from the backfield, QB Josh Freeman had a great view of the highlight-reel run. • "The one guy we don't block has a chance to make the tackle," Freeman said. "(Blount) bumps into a linebacker and then he pops out and hits a safety who tries to tackle him. The corners come up to tackle him and then he runs between them, he bounces off another guy and then he still has the speed and the momentum going to get around the edge. It was great. It fired up the (offensive) line. It fired up everybody." • Blount, who finished with 107 yards, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, recorded his sixth 100-yard game — tied for ninth in franchise history after 21 career games.
There hasn't been much consistent play from the Bucs receivers in recent weeks, when they have repeatedly failed to beat coverage and, in many cases, dropped catchable passes. • But on Sunday at Lambeau Field, the receivers rebounded. Though TE Kellen Winslow had the biggest day, with 132 yards, the receivers made plays against the shaky Green Bay defense. Mike Williams finished with seven catches for 83 yards and his first touchdown since the season opener. Arrelious Benn added five catches for 75 yards, including a 37-yard gain against one-on-one coverage. • These receivers had been challenged by coaches in the past few weeks, and the response was a long time in the making. • "Those guys kind of answered the call, so to speak, as far as going out and making plays," QB Josh Freeman said. "Even late (with 1:19 left), on the play where I got sacked, Mike ran a great route. I really thought we had a touchdown. As I was getting ready to throw it, a guy grabbed my leg. It was a shame. I'm really proud of those guys (for) the way they responded. They competed for the ball. I gave them a bunch of opportunities and they made plays on all of them."
. TE Kellen Winslow had one of his most productive games since joining the Bucs in 2009, but it was a performance that will be mixed with a pair of costly miscues that loomed large in the outcome. Winslow, who finished with a career-high 132 yards on nine catches, had a 4-yard touchdown catch negated with 5:07 left in the third quarter when he was flagged for offensive pass interference. Instead of pulling within 21-17, the Bucs got pushed back to the 14 and wound up settling for a field goal that trimmed the score to 21-13. Later, when the Bucs went for a two-point conversion that would have tied it with 13:11 left in the fourth quarter, Winslow dropped a pass from QB Josh Freeman despite having two hands on the ball. The pass was slightly behind him, but Winslow made the proper adjustment and seemed in position to bring the ball in. He declined to talk about the play afterward, but said: "I really felt we made enough plays to beat those guys. It's hard when you put the game in the refs' hands. That's all I can say." The Bucs would have tied the score at 21 with the two-point conversion.
. On Sunday, for the first time since Dec. 2, 2007, the Bucs had a 300-yard passer (Josh Freeman, 342), a 100-yard rusher (LeGarrette Blount, 107) and a 100-yard receiver (Kellen Winslow, 132) in the same game.
So, what exactly happened on the team's two failed onside kicks? • On the first, though S Larry Asante was ruled to have recovered the loose ball, K Michael Koenen illegally touched the ball — it didn't travel the required 10 yards — before the Packers' D.J. Smith got a hand on it. • Why was Koenen trying to make contact with the ball when it clearly was illegal? • "It was such a feather of a play," Koenen said. "You're trying to hit it 11 yards and it wasn't going to go 10 (yards), and I (realized) that. So, I was just trying to shield the ball and not let them scoop and score and eat the bad play." • Koenen didn't necessarily agree with the replay result. • "I touched it, but whether (Smith) touched it first is up for debate," he said. • Koenen said that on the second onside kick, which was recovered by the Packers, he was primarily responsible for corralling the football. • "I have to call myself out on that," he said. "I'm supposed to grab that ball, and I missed it. It squirted out. So, from that perspective, it didn't work out as it should've." • Even if Koenen had recovered the ball, it would not have mattered because LB Adam Hayward was offside.
Mixed results for secondary
. Just as coach Raheem Morris took an aggressive approach with a pair of onside kicks, the Bucs played with an equally assertive attitude in the secondary — with mixed results. Morris knew it would not be pretty, but he believed that the standard fare Bucs defense would not suffice against QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offensive machine. "I asked those guys to go out there and play man-to-man vs. the Green Bay Packers," Morris said. "(Greg) Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley. Versus some really good wideouts, you're going to have up and down moments." The good moments included Rodgers' first interception since Oct. 16 and just his fourth of the season. He was picked off by CB Elbert Mack in the fourth quarter, setting up WR Dez Briscoe's touchdown minutes later. But the unfortunate moments for the secondary will overshadow the positive ones. Like, for example, the three penalties committed by defensive backs on a single Green Bay possession. Two came against CB E.J. Biggers and another against CB Myron Lewis. "Aaron Rodgers has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the league," Mack said. "You can't sit back and play zone all day. He's smart enough to dice that up and put the ball where it needs to go. (Morris) put the challenge on us to play hard on the back end. We competed, and they just made a couple good throws and catches." One of the biggest came against Lewis — seeing his most extensive action this season — when he gave up the clinching 40-yard touchdown to Nelson. Lewis was paired one-on-one with Nelson with no safety help. "He kind of used a little stutter at the top of his route," Lewis said of Nelson. "That made me look back (at Rodgers) because I thought the ball was coming. That was bad technique by me. I should have had my hands on him at the line. I didn't do that." The aggressive approach, the Bucs said, won't change despite the flurry of penalties from members of the secondary. "We're not going to change what we do," Mack said. "We're going to attack it the same way. Hopefully the next couple of weeks we'll get a couple calls to come our way. It's the nature of the beast. When you're out there competing, things happen fast. The refs make the call, and it is what it is."